York Street Band

Last week I had the pleasure of interviewing Sarha Moore, a lifelong prolific (street) musician and member of the York Street Band. Like the Dirt Sisters, the York Street Band were an all-female band who claimed the streets as a space of communication and musicianship. They consisted of Sarha Moore on saxophone, Ros Davies also on saxophone, Anthea Gomez on accordion and Julia Farringdon on flute.

Illustration of the York Street Band by Baz Ward, 1981

The band played together from 1978-1982 and often performed at feminist events, political actions and were popular with feminists in the Netherlands, travelling there to perform on television. The York Street Band played interpretations of existing songs, such as by the French singer Edith Piaf, but never wrote original material together.

They appeared on the BBC radio programme Women’s Hour but never recorded an album. Sarha does have recordings of the band’s practices that we will be digitizing as part of this project. The remaining recordings highlight the importance of acknowledging the different contexts in which women record(ed) music. This points to a need to shift understandings of the heritage value of this ‘unfinished’ work, or the snap-shots of work-in-process these women, and many others like them, created.

The band playing in York, c. 1982

Seeing the band play at an anti-nuclear protest in 1979 was a major influence on Karunavaca (Dorry) from the Fabulous Dirt Sisters, who saw the political possibilities of women creatively reclaiming public space in a noisy and joyful way.

This entry was posted in Documenting women's history, Street Music. Bookmark the permalink.

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